If you have a business which sells its goods online, then you’ll probably be well aware of the phrase ‘multi-channel selling’.
This, in effect, means that you are making your goods available to potential customers through a number of different means. You may have a bricks and mortar store which acts as a physical flagship for your business, and which attracts a healthy number of customers through its doors, but equally, in an age when people are often trying to find short cuts for ways to locate and buy the items they really want, it’s quite possible that they might only visit a store to actually get the chance to take a close look at a particular product and, if they’re allowed to, to handle it.
There’s no doubting that this is hugely frustrating for many businesses, as they will have taken a great deal of trouble to mount attractive displays of the products they sell in their efforts to persuade customers to make a decision there and then, and part with their hard-earned cash.
After all, actually showing off the goods they sell in a way which attracts customers is, in itself, not a cheap business.
But nevertheless, people’s attitudes towards shopping are steadily changing, and this momentum will continue to increase as an ever younger group of people has an increasing amount of disposable income to enable it to buy whatever it wants, yet it does not see the need of visiting a physical store to get those products.
Integrating all sales channels the key
All this means that, in order to ensure that it gets the greatest possible number of sales from all channels, a business has to carefully integrate the various outlets through which it presents its products.
For example, where once having someone to answer the telephone and give information to a potential customer about a specific product might have been seen as an extravagance for many retailers – especially in terms of the number of enquiries received relative to the number of sales made – today this function is an important bridge between that company’s website, where its products can be displayed and described, and its retail function. It can help enable people to get answers to specific questions they may have about a product, and so be able to satisfy themselves that the product which they have seen on that website is, indeed, the right one for their needs, and will do exactly the job they want of it.
Businesses which are effective and successful in this increasingly technological age are distinguished by their ability to assimilate and combine the different functions and advantages of a number of communication channels in order to meet the needs of their customers.
Invest in the most productive sales sources
So investment in customer relationship management should be closely guided by the level of return which is achieved through each of the respective channels through which a business trades. For example, if its website brings in a high proportion of sales, then time should be spent on ensuring that it is easy to understand and the systems supporting it are robust enough to ensure that it stays active for as long as possible. Equally, investment in high-quality telephone answering systems and networks might also be considered vital, if this is how an appreciable number of profitable sales are received.
It’s a matter of ‘horses for courses’, but using the right modern communications tools to reach out to and build relationships with its customers can make the difference between a business merely surviving and really thriving.
Guest post contributed by Simon Belfield, a business marketing blogger who has a large interest in businessdirect.bt.com NAS Servers.